Destino: Experiments in Imagery and Peformance at the MAC

“Imagery is more powerful than words,” states Antonia Casanova. The co-director of the experimental show Destino sat down with Revolver to discuss the ideas behind the production.

 Photo: Matías Leiva, MAC
Photo: Matías Leiva, MAC

Casanova goes on to explain that it’s our mental imagery - of objects around us, lighting, imagined dream scenes, colors, and more – that helps define our experiences at every moment. At the MAC Quinta Normal this month, Destino experiments with these aspects of the human condition in an avant-garde mixed dance/theater medium.

Staged in an intimate, 25-seat theater, Destino starts out in a complete blackout broken only by audio of a muffled heartbeat. The lights return, juxtaposing two opposite states, and the production continues, characterized by a minimalistic set and simple costumes. Black plastic covers the walls and floor, transforming the stage into a dark and empty space awaiting interpretation.

The play follows an unnamed character through a series of disturbing interactions with a hostile, pain-inducing figure and, separately, with his lover. As the show unfolds, the viewer peeks into the main character’s warped and tortured experience. While conveying emotional and physical pain, the main performer moves through slow and exaggerated body movements. His tormenter lets out yelps and vicious moans.

 Photo: Matías Leiva, MAC
Photo: Matías Leiva, MAC

Realistically animalistic interactions like strangling and biting between the main character, his tormenter and his lover bring themes of primitive violence and personal crisis to the piece. Plays with light and shadow on skin, flashes of color and echoing shrieks help develop his grotesque dream state.

Three consecutive doorways onstage represent the transition between layers of fantasy and reality. The main character’s internal strife manifests differently in each physical space, begging the question, in what moment does one exit the mind and enter reality?

Destino originates from director Benjamín Matthey’s masters thesis called La Ceguera del Vigía, or 'The Watcher's Blindness', from Universidad de Chile in 2010. Thematically it deals with the magic of imagery, internal crises and how the individual inhabits contemporary society. The project was expanded into Destino in order to “open up that emotional space for the public,” according to co-director Casanova.

 Photo: Matías Leiva, MAC
Photo: Matías Leiva, MAC

“Although we try not to have expectations for our audience’s experience, what we are trying to do is connect sensations with imagery,” says Casanova. “The image has so much power, and we are trying to play off of that by mixing theater performance and dance. There’s no reason these mediums of expression have to be separated.”

This type of mixed-medium experimental piece is relatively new in Chile. “Although we aren’t the first people to do this, it’s a field that’s just recently opening up,” comments Casanova. “A public audience for this type of performance art has yet to be created.” Although the crowd was small, the fifty-minute piece met with enthusiastic applause upon its conclusion.

While exploring rather serious themes of the self in real and imagined space, Destino employs cutting-edge elements of performance, theater and dance. It will be appreciated by those interested in alternative showpieces, and certainly provides plenty of food for thought.

MAC Quinta Normal
Avenida Matucana 364
Metro Quinta Normal

Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays in June
8:30 pm
Tickets: CP$4,000 (US$8) General Entry, CP$2,000 Students

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